Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.
I've spent the bulk of my professional career in media and publishing, but took a detour about 10 years ago as a nonprofit founder. With that experience behind me, I've parlayed lessons learned from the previous decade to my career change as a life coach and author. Right now, I'm completing certification through the Happy For No Reason program led by best-selling author Marci Shimoff.
The theme of my most recent book, Circuit Train Your Brain, dovetails with the Happiness course, as both focus on the daily practices needed to cultivate a reservoir of contentment that provides resilience.
Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?
Having joined in January 2021, I haven't had the chance to create any memories or success stories connected to my membership yet. However, I have volunteered as a Squad Mod, with our Squad kicking off April 7, 2021. That said, I attended an Ellevate speaking event at the Tesla location at 1053 W Grand Avenue in Chicago a few years ago. It was a great chance to meet other accomplished women, and I made some connections that have lasted 'til this day.
How would you define your professional mission?
I had open heart surgery as a child to correct a congenital heart defect, and so I've always had this gnawing sensation that I was supposed to accomplish something with my life. It's a driving force that informs my actions across strata and communities.
Personally, I'm insatiably curious about everything. Having had jobs that range from jib crane operator at a steel mill to self-published author, it's safe to say that I have a diverse background.
My mission is to help people learn how to identify their personal strengths, leverage them and to build their own life, irrespective and apart from what other people think should be their mission.
I like people, dogs, gardening, Lake Michigan, travel, reading, hiking, red wine and music of all kinds. My kids are all grown—ages 31, 28 and 26—they are my best friends and make me laugh every day. Raising them as a single mom gave our family unit a fierce dense quality of solidarity from as far back as I can remember.
In terms of advice, I've always found that leading with listening helps everyone expand what's possible, whether focusing on networking, partnerships, project development and relationships of all kinds.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
• You have to actually love people, and understand our common link with each other • Exceptional listening skills • The capacity to distill and translate communication(s) • Solid organizational and time management capabilities • Appreciation for beauty and nuance • The ability to think on the fly and pivot easily • A good memory
What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?
The day I saw my face on the home page of CNN's website for being named one of the CNN 10 Visionary Women, I was riding on the subway and reading it on my smartphone. It was at once surreal, exciting, humbling and invigorating.
What is your morning ritual?
The first thing I say out loud, even before getting out of bed, is "thank you for this day." Next up is making coffee. While the coffee perks, I use the stair climber in my home gym to get my heart rate up. Once coffee is done, I start on client content or writing. My habit is to write my "to do" list out the night prior so that I start the list with a sense of purpose (and don't waste time frittering away focus). I actually wrote a blog post about "The Beauty of the Eternal To Do List" for my Patreon.
What is your favorite social media site? Why?
I'm a fan of Twitter. When I first signed up in 2009, I used the platform as an informal R&D channel for my energy clients. It's original format of 140 characters, based on the SMS parameters (and founder Jack Dorsey's love of haiku) also appeals to me. I love the syllabic origami haiku represents—the dichotomy of a rigid construct vs. limitless power of the words.
Twitter is where my brain unspools.
What would you say your personal superpower is?
Kindness and empathy.
What advice would you offer future leading ladies wishing to break into your industry?
Know yourself, your strengths and your goals. Think in terms of adjacencies: put yourself in the Venn Diagrams that represent two or three of your goals. The opportunities are in the overlap.
What is one piece of advice you’d offer working moms?
You MUST practice self care. When my daughters were young, I scheduled days every quarter where I did not see my kids for 24 hours in a row. They'd go to grandma's or a babysitter—someplace where I knew they would be 100% safe. On some of these days, I would goof off. Other days, I'd get bit by the cleaning bug and would organize my closet. The point is that for those 24 hours, I did exactly what I wanted to do.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
An author, media consultant, life coach and speaker, Molly Cantrell-Kraig has been recognized as one of CNN's Visionary Women and profiled by the Christian Science Monitor, and the Shriver Report. Cantrell-Kraig has also been interviewed on the Women's Media Center and the BBC, speaking on such topics as women, independence, gender roles and life transitions. From her beginnings as a single mother on welfare, Cantrell-Kraig is a self-described work in progress whose focus is on... Continue Reading
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